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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

PG&E employees say they are worried about what's at stake for pensions, the health of their 401(k)s and other unpaid obligations from the company as it enters the bankruptcy process.

Details: Though PG&E said it will continue to pay employees' wages, health care and other benefits, many employees expressed major concerns that the company will renegotiate worker contracts in an effort to cut costs. The bankruptcy process is expected to be lengthy and complicated.

Background: PG&E filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, seeking protection on potentially billions of dollars in liability costs for its role in deadly wildfires across California.

Several union members are worried about receiving payments — uncashed paychecks, paid out vacation and severance agreements — owed by the company before it filed for bankruptcy.

  • Employees who received checks more than 180 days before the company filed for bankruptcy, or if they are owed more than $12,850, become creditors in the bankruptcy process — putting total payment of that money at risk since it's paid out after more senior debt holders, as is standard with Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The volatility of PG&E's share price has hit employees' 401(k)s. The stock has rallied in recent days, despite the bankruptcy filing, but has recently fallen as low as $7 from $48 in November, before the deadly Camp fire broke out.

  • "I myself have taken a pretty hefty hit. A significant part of my 401(k) was in PG&E stock," John Mader, who works as an engineer at a PG&E service center and heads the Engineers and Scientists of California (ESC) union, tells Axios. The ESC represents 3,700 of PG&E's 24,000 employees.
  • Analysts are less optimistic employees like Mader will recoup those losses in the near term — analysts' average price target for PG&E by the end of the. year is $14, according to FactSet.

Employees also say they're anxious about whether or not their pensions will be put into play by outside creditors during the bankruptcy process, potentially changing labor agreements, which could impact pension plans and other benefits.

  • IBEW, a union that represents 12,000 PG&E employees, says this prospect is unlikely.
  • In a statement, PG&E spokesperson Paul Doherty tells Axios: "There are no changes to the company's tax-qualified pension plan or life insurance benefits, and the company will continue to make regular pension contributions to that plan as normal."

Go deeper

Behind GameStop's latest stock surge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Back in focus: The meme stock trade.

By the numbers: GameStop finished up 19%, after a wild day that saw shares spike as much as 80%.

AT&T spins off U.S. video business via deal with TPG

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

AT&T is spinning off three of its video services, including its satellite TV brand DirecTV, to create a new standalone video company called New DIRECTV.

Details: The company will be jointly owned by AT&T and private-equity giant TPG. AT&T will retain a 70% stake and TPG will own 30% of the firm.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Ex-USA Gymnastics coach dies by suicide after being charged with human trafficking

John Geddert. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The body of John Geddert was found on Thursday, just hours after the former USA Gymnastics coach was charged with 24 counts of criminal misconduct, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

What they're saying: “My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life. This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved," Nessel said in a statement.